Elizabeth Warren, the architect behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), was on the April 26th episode of The Daily Show to discuss what the show described as “Congress’ fight to kill the consumer agency before it helps middle-class families.” Increasingly Elizabeth Warren has resorted to the age-old political tactic of demagoguery.
Warren’s message is clear, you are with me or you are against the middle class. While talking with Jon Stewart, she described proposals from FSC Republicans as a “knife in the ribs” of consumer protection. She went on to state, “It really is, who are you here for? Are you here for moneyed interests? Are you here for the powerful and the political? Or are you here for these working families who get up every day and have a million things to worry about, to think about, to try to get done before they go to bed at night. Are you here to say that they are entitled, they have a right, to a system just a little more fare – just a little more secure.”
Strong words. After listening to Professor Warren it is difficult to suppress the urge to invest in tar and feathers and defend her honor against the first the person who dare utter an ill word about her or her bureau.
So allow us to evaluate the severity of these “knives” she talks about. One of the bills Warren refers to, proposed by Congresswoman Shelley Capito (WV), seeks to “postpone the date for the transfer of functions to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection if the Bureau does not yet have a Director in place.” Is Ms. Capito a champion for “the powerful and the political” by daring to question whether a new government agency should be allowed to start regulating financial servicers without a confirmed director? It is not as if there has not been plenty of time for the Senate to confirm such an appointee. The Dodd-Frank Act, the piece of legislation authorizing the CFPB, was enacted on July 21st, 2010 and the President has been free since that date to name a director so they may be confirmed. A cynic may wonder if Professor Warren has her own self-interest at work here. The Huffington Post points out that, without Congresswoman Capito’s bill, Warren could serve as Director of the CFPB without a Senate Confirmation some on the left fear she could not receive.
Elizabeth Warren is passionate and charismatic. She is easy to like and, I believe, genuinely has the best interests of American consumers at heart. Unfortunately she is guilty of either misunderstanding the position of many of her skeptics, or is intentionally demonizing her opponents in order for populism to triumph over reason.
Dictionary.com defines demagoguery as “to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.” I can think of no better way to describe Professor Warren’s Daily Show performance.